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Manila Marine Mameluke

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I am sure most collectors agree, that named artifacts that can be researched always add interest and value to an object. Artifacts that have “witnessed” famous engagements or periods of history are quite rare and if they surface to the collecting community, will usually hold a special place in most collections. I have admired from afar guns forensically attributed to the Battle of Little Big Horn, the recent discovery of the sword carried by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw when he was killed at the Battle of Fort Fisher in 1863, or the recently publicized auctions for flags flown during the D-day invasion. While maybe not rising to that level of interest for others, my most recent acquisition serves as a witness to one of America’s greatest naval victories and it has fascinated me personally since acquiring it a couple months ago. While Spanish American vintage Marine Officers swords are hard enough to come by, this one is named to the 1st Lt. who commanded the Marine Detachment on board the USS Boston during Commodore Dewey’s famous attack May 1, 1898. I believe this sword was witness to that epic engagement, and I am confident it was strapped to this Lt’s hip on that historic day.

 

The sword:

This sword was made by Shannon,Miller and Crane, New York, NY. This firm under this name was in operation from 1867 to 1897, when the name was changed to just Miller and Crane. The company Miller and Crane was defunct by 1900. It is safe to say that this sword was made prior to 1897. The sword has beautiful ivory grips that gratefully remain completely intact. It is 36 inches in length, with a blade length of 30 inches. Consistent with mamelukes of this time period, it has the early simple banner with US Marines in block letters etched on one side. The other side has the Marines name acid etched in old English style lettering within the same style banner. The sword remains in excellent condition, with a bright blade with light scratches and straight scabbard with a few small dings and a couple very small bumps and bruises. While the sword shows that care was taken in its preservation over the past 120 years, it does show evidence that it was carried…..alot! The rings display a lot of use, and the sword certainly has a “been there” feel to it inconsistent with the type of age that comes solely from little use and a century of storage.

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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More photos of sword. The first couple were auction photos. The sword was sold with a new and mint leather sword knot on it obviously not original to the piece so I removed it.

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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The long carry time is clearly evidenced from the wear on the rings and fitting

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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The Marine

 

The Marine officer who carried this sword, Robert McM. (McMillan) Dutton was once again in charge of the Marine detachment on the USS Boston, May 1, 1898 during the Battle of Manilla Bay. With the help of my friend and fellow forum member Mason Lurvey, Dutton’s career comes to life.

 

Robert Dutton was born November 30, 1869 in San Francisco California. He graduated from the Naval Academy Annapolis on June 7, 1889, finishing 30th in a field of 34. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, and it stands to reason it was about this time he purchased this sword. Dutton was initially assigned to sea going duty aboard the steamer Kearsarge in the Atlantic. Dutton was aboard the USS Boston for a couple of years pror to the battle of Manilla. Records in his file as well as several newspaper articles found on the internet confirm his command of the Marine detachment (29 Marines) as a First Lieutenant aboard the USS Boston during the battle. He would have of course been entitled to the Dewey medal. My research online has not revealed any evidence that his Dewey medal has ever surfaced. After the battle on November 4, 1898, the Boston steamed to China, and Dutton led the same detachment into Peking where he formed one of the first Legation guards prior to the Boxer Rebellion. This guard remained in place until March 13, 1899.

 

Muster rolls reflect Dutton was part of the fifth battalion Marines in August 1900 arriving in Tientsen China. By December 1900, he was back in Cavite. In June 1901 he is listed as enroute to China aboard the USS Monadnock and in August, he was posted in Shanghai China. In October 1901, he is listed on the USS Monadnock in Canton.

Dutton’s career after this seemed to center around Cavite. He later returned stateside, and spent a few years as Assistant Paymaster on Mare Island. He later transferred to Philadelphia and Washington DC for various assignments. He retired from the Marine Corps around 1907.

 

Dutton’s awards would have been an impressive array. For his service in the Marine Corps during the Battle of Manilla Bay, Dutton would have once again been awarded the Dewey medal. He was issued the Marine Corps Spanish and West Indies campaign medal rim #7 for his service between May 1, 1898 to August 16, 1898 in the Philippine Islands. He was also also issued the Marine Corps 1899 Philippine Campaign medal rim #109 for service in the Philippine Islands between February 4, 1899 and December 31, 1904. He was also issued the China Relief Expedition medal rim #34 for performing duties within the borders of China May 24, 1900-May 17, 1901. He would have warranted the Marine Corps Expeditionary medal for the trip to China on the USS Boston in November 1898. This medal was introduced in 1919, so it is likely it was never issued to him as he died the year prior. The whereabouts of Dutton’s medals are unknown and I can find no evidence they have ever surfaced.

 

In 1914, Dutton was appointed by the future President, Herbert Hoover to serve as a delegate of the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB).. This is an interesting and somewhat forgotten effort to assist the Belgian populace after the German invasion in 1914. Apparently, Germany took over control of the food supply, and found feeding their troops far more important than feeding citizens. Adding to the problem was the obvious necessity for Britain and France to cease trade and impose a blockade on goods coming into Belgium. With citizen’s literally starving, the Commission assisted in bringing food and supplies to the non- combatants. Dutton spent time in Belgium during this effort, and sadly contracted tuberculosis. He returned to the United States, and in February 1918, succumbed to his illness. A tragic end for a man who committed his life to serving his country and humanity. He is buried at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma California.

 

The first photo is a passport image of Dutton taken in 1914. The next two photos depict Span Am War Officers carrying their Mamelukes in the field. A fellow forum member states the order to stop carrying the swords in the field came sometime shortly after the Boxer Rebellion.

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2019.gif

 

 

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Last

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2019.gif

 

 

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Kevin very impressive and historic sword...you can bet he carried it to Peking in 1898 and beyond. Great write up you put together, really brings his career into focus. Thank you for sharing such a great piece!


Always looking for items associated with the China Marines! Visit chinamarine.org

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Bravo Zulu... “thread of the month”



The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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I love the wear on the sword as evidenced by carry ring wear. The early sword itself is neat just because of the blade etch style and ivory grips. Wonderful research on your original owner with an outstanding career.

 

Congrats!


"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Thank you guys for all the nice comments!


I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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Great sword and writeup, Kevin. Here's a pic of Capt Dutton cropped from a group photo taken in the PI in November 1901. Semper Fi! Bob

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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A great sword and a great history. Based on the style, I believe it was made by Ames for Shannon, Miller and Crane. It is unusual to find one with the ivory in such good condition. Normally cracks are found, especially around the opening for the knot, and this often results in loss of portions of the grip. I wonder if these early examples ever had the brass gold plated? The color is always uniform and does not show any wear-through of the gilt to the base material below. It looks like there never was a gold surface.

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Great sword and writeup, Kevin. Here's a pic of Capt Dutton cropped from a group photo taken in the PI in November 1901. Semper Fi! Bob

 

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Wow Bob what a great photo. I was hoping beyond hope to find a period photo of him in uniform. I know the Naval Academy has two on file from when he graduated but it has been hard to get any cooperation from them. Thanks, this made my day!


I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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Great sword with a wonderful history! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Dick


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Thank you Dick, quite a compliment coming from you as your posts are always spectacular. I want to thank Dirk as well who has helped me along a bit with this sword. He called my attention to this photograph, and a couple publications have captions which state this photo depicts Marines from the USS Boston in China in 1898. If you look real close, you can just make out an officer standing in the doorway wearing an early cover with ega and most probably a dress officers patrol jacket. No doubt this is Dutton.

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2019.gif

 

 

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Before I read your comment on discarding the knot which came with this sword as unauthentic, I had never really thought about what knots these early swords used. I therefore went back to the regs. The Regulation on 1875 described the knot at follows: “Of three-sixteenths inch crimson and gold cord, with bullion tassel. The sword-knot will be worn with full dress only.” The illustration is not too clear

 

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The next Uniform regulation I have is 1892. It gives the same description of the full-dress knot, but also described an undress knot as “Of russet leather, to be similar in size and shape to the one adopted for full-dress.”. The 1900 regulation repeated the same verbiage. Neither the 1892 or 1900 regulations had illusrations. The description in the 1912 regulation was slightly different: “The undress sword knot shall consist of a single loop of braided tan leather cord of 3/16 inch in diameter and 13 inches long, with the ends secured in a tan leather tassel of the same design as the full-dress sworn-knot tassel”. Unfortunately they showed the full-dress knot but not he undress.

 

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The 1922 regulation described the knots as following:

 

“493. Knot, sword, dress (fig. ), commissioned officers; leader, Marine Band.

To consist of a single loop of three-sixteenths inch gold and scarlet cord 13

inches long, with ends secured in a gold-bullion tassel three-fourths inch in

diameter and 2 inches long.

 

“494. Knot, sword, undress (fig. ), commissioned officers; leader, Marine

Band. To consist of a single loop of braided russet-leather cord three-sixteenths

inch in diameter and 13 inches long, with ends secured in a russet leather

tassel three-fourths inch in diameter and 2 inches long.”

 

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The knot in the 1922 regulation is obviously the one you took off your sword. The description in the 1922 reg of the undress knot is quite similar to those in the 1892, 1900, and 1912 regulations but without an illustration in is hard say for certain, but I suspect they were the same, so your knot might be correct.

 

A question: Does anyone have a dress knot? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one

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I have no doubt the russet leather sword knot originally on the sword was the correct pattern. I took it off because it was in absolutely mint unworn condition showing no wear. With the wear depicted on this sword and the obvious carry time, it was clear to me that this knot was not original to the piece from the period. I have a minty WWI Mameluke from WWI that came with its original russet leather sword knot that shows appropriate age and wear for this sword. It essentially looks the same as the knot that came with the Dutton sword other than age and condition. I am not sure when these knots changed from brown to black though? Here is a photo of the dress knot for the Marine Corps Mameluke of this time period. I recently acquired this from another forum member for my collection. They are hard to find and I was thrilled to get it. This one is mint and came out of a larger collection of Marine material for an identified officer from the early 20th century. Kevin

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2019.gif

 

 

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Man, another fantastic piece to your collection Kevin, and a great new thread to boot.


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Thanks Bryan!


I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2019.gif

 

 

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